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2019 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV Review

Affordable plug-in brings power to the people

Outlander PHEV’s Range: what to expect

There are two important facts you need to know about the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV: About 500 kilometres/310 miles. Eleven bucks. 

Yup, if you nerd it up and stick close to home, you can slash your fuel costs like crazy. I proved it in a week of city-only driving involving a series of trips that rarely strayed over the PHEV’s fully electric range of about 40 kilometres/25 miles (based on my real-life experience). 

Related: 2018 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV First Drive Review

Doing so, however, requires rigor and discipline. If you have to make two trips in one day, you probably have to use fossil fuels for one of them. That’s because taking the PHEV’s battery from fully drained to locked and loaded is no small task – typically, about 13 hours on 8 amp household current.

Fast chargers will load the car up in a fraction of that time (about 30 minutes on DC charge will get you to 80 per cent), if you’re on the highway and are willing to pay for your power (about $20 an hour in Alberta, Canada). 

The PHEV SUV advantage

The joy of plug-in hybrids, of course, is the elimination of range anxiety. Short-range city trips are virtually “free” on electric, but if you have to head out for a highway trip, there’s a 2.0-litre, four cylinder gasoline engine that will get you wherever you need to go – albeit at a modest pace.

The engine pushes out a mere 117 horsepower, and 137 lb.-ft. of torque, although the electric motors boost that when you have some juice on supply. 

Transport Canada rates fuel economy at 3.2 litres/100 km. On the brown-to-green scale of environmentalism, that puts you at a solid khaki. 

For more on the specs, read also see Outlander PHEV Specs: Closer Look By The Numbers

Price: is this hybrid sport utility worth it?

There’s more to the Outlander PHEV than just great fuel economy. Unlike its competitors, it is actually affordable, with prices that start at C$43,498 or US$35,795. Compare that to Volvo XC90 (previewed here), which is unquestionably more refined than the PHEV but starts at C$66,300 or US$48,195, or about 50 per cent higher than the Mitsubishi.

That’s probably a big part of why the PHEV is not only Canada’s top-selling plug-in hybrid (about one-quarter of the market), but also the biggest selling such vehicle in the world. 

And there is much to admire in this compact machine. It is enabled to run AWD in fully electric mode. It is also the only plug-in hybrid with a quick charge option. 

Driving Impressions: how is Mitsu’s new SUV on the road?

The vehicle is surprisingly pleasant to drive. The PHEV has a tight turning circle that lets you execute on illegal U-turn quicker than a cop can click on his lights. Its steering is responsive, but the suspension is a bit wobbly for a putative off-roader. 

2019 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV engine
The 2019 Outlander PHEV’s engine pushes out a mere 117 horsepower, and 137 lb.-ft. of torque, although the electric motors boost that when you have some juice on supply. Photo: Mitsubishi

I loved the ability to adjust the regenerative braking on the fly, using the paddle-shift style levers on the steering wheel. If you want to coast, you can click into B0 or B1 mode, and there is virtually no drag on deceleration. Maxing out at B4 or B5, however, optimizes regeneration and slows the PHEV down like you were standing on the brakes. Less wear on the brakes, and more power to your battery. 

I found myself playing with the paddles to try to optimize both acceleration and regen. It seems this car is made for hypermilers, like me.  

Other features for 2019

This is part of the third generation of Outlanders, introduced in 2014. This year’s model adds air vents and USB port for rear passengers, LED headlights on the GT trim, snazzier wheels, and enhanced battery warranty. 

2019 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV interior
The interior is not as refined as you may expect. Photo: Mitsubishi

The cabin quality generally seems to be a bit sloppy in fit, and squeaks and rattles were already creeping in. Acceleration is – let’s be kind, and say – modest. 

Takeaway: should you buy the 2019 Outlander PHEV?

The PHEV is far from perfect. If refinement is your top priority, then gas-only options will give you more polished products for the money. However, if you want a truly green SUV, then the PHEV brings power to the masses. And that is a good thing. 

For more 2019 and 2020 SUVs, check out this guide.

Doug Firby
I am a communications generalist with more than four decades of experience in online, blogging, newspapers, radio and magazines. I'm also a gearhead and an outdoor enthusiast. I write on cars, trucks, bikes and the auto industry for national publications. And I am president and publisher of Troy Media Digital Solutions.